Unbanked and underbanked consumers are slow to adopt electronic bill pay, a new Aite Group LLC report concludes. Based on in-person surveys of 257 check cashing store customers, the traditional ways financially underserved consumers pay bills still dominate.
Forty-one percent of respondents pay bills in person, while 45 percent do it by mail. That leaves only 14 percent combined who pay bills online and over the phone. "Electronic bill payment methods have a long way to go to gain greater acceptance among the unbanked and underbanked," said Gwenn Bézard, Research Director with Aite and co-author of this report. The other co-author, Aite Analyst Judy Fishman, added, "The majority of unbanked and underbanked consumers are not yet motivated to use emerging bill payment products."
In the wake of the disastrous earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti in January, MoneyGram International and microlender Fonkoze reported on the state of their services to the Haitian people.
"Following last month's earthquake, MoneyGram implemented a program to help Haitians living abroad send immediate relief to their loved ones in Haiti for special pricing of $1 and similar pricing in foreign currencies around the world," said Dan O'Malley, MoneyGram Executive Vice President of the Americas.
"Fonkoze, one of the largest MoneyGram agents in Haiti, was the first to restore service in Port-au-Prince and has provided reliable financial services during this desperate time," he added. Fonkoze is stimulating Haiti's economy by facilitating the transfer of money into the Caribbean nation. "These transfers are now essential to helping Haitians rebuild and adjust to their new lives, especially in Haiti's provinces where large numbers have migrated," Fonkoze said.
Web-based ATMCash expanded its online and telephone money transfer service to India to allow U.S.-based residents to send money online and over the phone to recipients in India. ATMCash card users in India can access transferred funds via "virtually any ATM location in India 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," ATMCash said. Consumers enroll in the program at ATMCash.com.
Stored Value Solutions was renamed Ceridian Stored Value Solutions by Ceridian Corp. The decision to change the name was made "to convey a more consistent presence to the marketplace, to bring continuity to our messaging and to leverage the reputation and brand equity of Ceridian's numerous business offerings," Ceridian said.
Las Vegas-based processor eCommLink Inc. opened a satellite office in Medellin, Colombia, to support its growing business development efforts in Latin America. Ennio Ponzetto, Chief Executive Officer at eCommLink, said the Latin American market, with its large unbanked population and lack of a traditional payment infrastructure, offers opportunity for prepaid cards, especially when combined with cell phones.
Maritz Holdings Inc. purchased American Express Co.'s minority interest in American Express Incentive Services, rendering Maritz and its affiliates the sole owner of AEIS. Transaction terms were not disclosed. For 13 years, AEIS has operated as a joint venture between Maritz and AmEx. AEIS will remain an independent issuer and authorized seller of AmEx-branded prepaid cards.
MoneyGram signed an agreement with Albania's Banka Popullore to offer MoneyGram money transfer services at the bank's 42 locations. Banka Popullore becomes MoneyGram's fourth agent in the Balkan country.
PreCash Inc. now offers what it calls the first fee-free general purpose reloadable prepaid card. With the Vision Prepaid Visa card, users have access to direct deposit, online bill pay, text messaging and e-mail alerts; they are given the choice of three pricing plans.
With an emphasis on safety, alternative payment platform provider Rixty Inc. expanded its cash payment system to include children under the age of 13. Consumers in that demographic can now access Rixty's nationwide network of over 10,000 Coinstar kiosks and 10,000 prepaid card distribution locations to pay for online games and virtual worlds.
The Western Union Co. signed Banco Bradesco, S.A., to offer money transfers at the bank's locations in Brazil. The signing is part of Western Union's "go-to-market" strategy in Brazil.
Allpoint Network, a surcharge-free ATM network provider and Cardtronics Inc. affiliate, renewed its agreement with FSV Payment Systems, a network-branded prepaid card processor. Retail chain stores such as 7-Eleven Inc., Target Corp., Costco Wholesale Corp., CVS Caremark and Walgreen Co. utilize Allpoint.
Iraqi mobile telecommunications company Asiacell made a strategic partnership with Iraqi bank consortium Amwal. Under terms of the agreement, Asiacell, part of The Qtel Group of companies, will provide Iraq with banking and transaction services accessible via mobile phones. Such services include prepaid airtime purchasing, buying goods and services from registered merchants and making money transfers.
The Bancorp Bank Payment Solutions Group, a division of The Bancorp Bank and a wholly owned subsidiary of The Bancorp Inc., joined forces with InsurCard to offer an instant-issue prepaid card program to North American Risk Services Inc. The program handles property and workers compensation claims. InsurCard is a wholly owned subsidiary of Service Network Design LLC.
Firstsource Solutions, a global provider of business process management services, signed a three-year agreement with UniRush LLC USA to provide customer care management services to UniRush cardholders - over 48 million individuals, UniRush said. Firstsource will provide such functions as call center and back-office management for UniRush.
Ukraine mobile telecommunications Kyivstar selected Comverse, a subsidiary of Comverse Technology Inc., to deploy a multichannel mobile advertising platform, allowing Kyivstar to launch targeted promotional campaigns to its over 22 million subscribers.
In conjunction with its entertainment partner Inspire, Tampa, Fla.-based reloadable prepaid card provider nFinanSe Inc. launched an online music site that provides free downloads of new artists' works and is marketed to young adults aged 18 to 25. The site can be found at www.nfinansemusic.com.
Transaction Wireless, a mobile infrastructure, commerce and marketing company, teamed with Fifth Third Processing Solutions to offer TW's virtual gift card solutions to the processor's merchant partners. "Our relationship with Transaction Wireless enables our merchants to reach their valued customers on a very personal level - through their 'always there' mobile device," said Donald Boeding, President, Merchant Services at Fifth Third.
TxVia Inc., a network-based payment systems provider, will provide AEIS with processing platforms based on TxVia's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) delivery model. "TxVia's PaaS model will support current functionality of [the] American Express merchant network, thus offering a seamless transition to our clients, merchants, and cardholders," said Russell W. Yergensen, Chief Financial Officer of AEIS.
Alternative payment system provider Zeus Research LLC struck an exclusive deal with STi Prepaid LLC to enable STi's prepaid calling cards to be used as a payment system for the purchase of virtual goods. STi, which reportedly sells over 200 million cards annually at over 200,000 U.S. retail outlets, will provide a "massive increase" in distribution for Zeus' online entertainment partners, STi said.
In partnership with Visa Inc., international foreign exchange and international payments specialist Travelex will launch what it called the first money transfer service in Australia. Visa Money Transfer allows for person-to-person payments and account transfers. The service in Australia will give consumers the option to send money domestically and internationally via Travelex's Australian online portal, www.travelexvmt.com.au.
Mark Resnick joined electronic bill pay provider Vindicia as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Resnick brings over 20 years of experience in building large-scale software-as-a-service businesses to Vindicia. He will help formulate Vindicia's long-term business model to sustain profitability in such markets as online content and gaming.
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